The latest product from DPA, the d:screet Necklace microphone, was reportedly conceived for use in the burgeoning reality TV market as a unobtrusive transducer, one that can still be worn sans shirt while “offering fast, repeatable and ‘do-it-yourself’ mounting.” Upon first glance, I immediately thought of other possible applications in which it may be an ideal solution and was eager to put it to use.
From $650 street, the d:screet Necklace features DPA’s awesome 4061 omnidirectional miniature capsule, handling up to 154dB SPL before clipping, embedded in a pliable rubber necklace-length cord (18.3in. or 20.9in. in length), and available in black, white, and brown skin tone-complementary hues. It attaches much like a necklace, with an “insert and turn” clasp, and is bolstered by magnetic components: one try and you’ve figured it out. It’s ready for essentially any pro-grade wireless system with a bevy of purchasable adapters; an XLR adapter is even available for wired use.
In direct comparison to a lapel mic of comparable quality, it offers a notably warm, fuller sound, no doubt due to its position under the chin on an artist’s chest. It is a bit rounded off on the top end, making it slightly less “crisp” than a rigidly mounted lapel mic; this is with a 20Hz-20kHz, +/- 2dB frequency response plus a built-in 10dB boost at 12kHz. However, the d:screet Necklace’s convenience factor ultimately wins, and any lack in high frequency is easily overcome with slight corrective EQ.
I had a blast using this mic with a variety of performers/speakers: two actor/singers, male and female, in community theater; a pastor at a progressive house of worship (HOW) who wanted to roam a bit from the pulpit; another HOW’s pastor in the midst of a major systems upgrade; and a mic-shy singer-songwriter. In each case, I believe the unobtrusive nature of the d:screet Necklace improved performances, as they all quickly felt “unmiked,” notably in the case of the pastor, who had been tethered to his podium to insure maximum intelligibility for his congregation. As such, I believe it could be a great tool in crafting a more intimate, personal vibe in both service and live performance settings.
For the upgrading HOW, FaithBridge UMC in Blowing Rock, N.C., we auditioned the Necklace with a secondary need of reducing feedback issues affecting the pastor’s headset microphone/wireless system. We had just installed a new PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2 Ai digital console at front of house and pulled out nearly a rack-full of rather noisy analog graphic EQs—all of which were “carved deep” to battle frequency issues in the large and boxy sheetrock/concrete room. Though the StudioLive offers comprehensive EQ per channel and a 31-band GEQ for the mix, solving frequency issues “at the source” is a better solution and the pastor’s current omni-capsuled headset was the main culprit; like the other pastor described above, FaithBridge’s Ben Carson moved quite a bit about the altar area while delivering his message.
In application, the Necklace was notably less prone to feedback than the headset mic. I believe that the Necklace’s placement—on the upper chest and directly under the chin, thus somewhat “sheltered” by the body in comparison to a headset mic—largely shielded it from the same feedback sources that more easily reached Carson’s normal microphone placed quite vulnerably on his left cheek. We did still need to carve into some feedback-prone frequencies in the room, but not nearly as much as before. Further, less EQ applied in battling frequency and feedback issues resulted in an overall better sound for the message and its accompanying contemporary worship music.
While lapel mics feel quite “corporate,” for lack of a better word, there was a certain cool factor applied in using the d:screet Necklace in every application. The first pastor commented how he appreciated not worrying about “brushing up against a lapel,” which is a notable benefit of the d:screet Necklace. Both actors preferred the necklace over lapels, saying that they felt more comfortable in putting it on, and that it left less room for error in positioning, etc. I agree. Out of the box, the Necklace’s rubber exterior does have a natural “shape” to it, which relaxes and contours to each individual’s shape over time—and, as we found—as it “warms up” to body temperature. For those who may not feel comfortable wearing the Necklace at first, rest assured that it does conform to your own shape in time and with repeated wear. That can’t be said for a comparable headset microphone.
In other institutional applications, I predict DPA’s d:screet Necklace will be a great way to increase intimacy between speaker and audience, too: improving sound quality, reducing visible technology and allowing freer movement will ultimately translate into a more personal presentation. While it won’t replace the lavaliere or headset microphone, it does offer sound professionals another attractive mic product to offer clients searching for the ultimate hands-free microphone solution for a wide variety of applications.
Pros: Totally unique omnidirectional microphone is easy to apply, wear and use; offers traditional lavaliere-rivaling sound with ease
Cons: A slight lack in high-frequency response in direct comparison with competing lavaliere offerings (though it is easily overcome with slight corrective EQ)
Applications: Anywhere a lavaliere microphone can be used plus experimental musician/artist applications
Directional characteristics: Omnidirectional
Cartridge Type: Pre-polarized condenser element with vertical diaphragm
Frequency Range (+/- 2dB): high boost grid, 20Hz-20kHz; 10dB boost at 12kHz
Sensitivity (nominal +/- 3dB @ 1kHz): 6 mV/Pa; -44dB re. 1 V/Pa
Dynamic Range: 97dB
Maximum SPL (peak before clipping): 144dB
Cable Drive Capability: Up to 984ft.
Power Supply (for wireless systems): Min. 5V – max. 50V through DPA adapter; (with DAD6001-BC/DAD6024/DAD4099) 48V phantom power +/- 4V for full performance.
Weight: 0.46oz. including cable and MicroDot connector
Microphone Diameter: 0.21in.
Necklace Length: 18.5in. or 20.7in.
Microphone Length: 0.5in.
Cable Length: 3.6ft.
Polarity: Positively increasing sound pressure produces positive voltage on MicroDot pin
Strother Bullins is NewBay Media’s Reviews Editor, AV/Pro Audio Group, active musician, recordist, and small venue sound reinforcement wrangler. firstname.lastname@example.org